As the name suggests, primary care is the first point of contact when seeking non-emergency medical care. Primary Care Physicians (PCP) deliver routine preventive healthcare and wellness education, as well as diagnosis and treatment for acute (sudden) or chronic (longer-lasting) illnesses. 51 percent of all physician office visits in the U.S. are to a primary care physician,1 with 990.8 million visits during 2015.2
Research shows that people who have a primary care doctor actually live longer.3 Why? Because the familiarity that results from getting to know a patient over time allows a primary care physician to catch medical issues early before they become serious. The primary care physician is often the first to spot mental health issues, or early signs of cancer or chronic disease. Routine check-ups, vaccinations and screenings offered by the primary care physician can keep illness at bay. And, of course, primary care physicians manage immediate medical needs such as colds, flu, minor cuts and other non-emergency injury and ailments.
What Will a Primary Care Physician Do For Me?
A primary care physician manages your care plan (that is, the big picture of your overall physical and mental health). Your physician will discuss personalized strategies to prevent disease as you age, including health screenings and vaccinations, and take action if you develop a health issue. A primary care physician:
- Promotes healthy aging through preventive care
- Detects changes in health based on your history
- Manages chronic disease
- Makes referrals for specialized care if needed
Choosing a Primary Care Physician that's Right for You or Your Family
While all primary care physicians are trained in health promotion, patient education, and the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses; not all primary care physicians have the same area of focus and expertise. Just as patients' health needs differ according to age and overall health, there is a primary care physician type to meet every life stage and medical need. primary care physician types include:
A primary care physician who is highly trained on the physical, developmental, emotional, behavioral and mental health needs of children, from newborn to approximately 21 years of age. Like all PCPs, pediatricians provide routine wellness care and will refer to and collaborate with specialists when necessary.
Devoted to comprehensive, continuing health care throughout the life-cycle, this type of primary care physician treats newborns to the elderly, and is also in trained in women-specific health needs. Family physicians pay special attention to their patients' lives within the context of family and the community, and can detect changes in health based on patient or family history.
Known as an internist, this type of primary care physician provides care to adults only. Training for an internist provides them with expertise in promoting healthy aging through preventive care—as well as in diagnosing the wide variety of diseases that commonly affect adults—and in managing complex medical situations as an outpatient. Internists can also provide continuity of care if a patient's needs require inpatient treatment.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
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About Primary Care
Our board-certified Doylestown Health Primary Care physicians provide preventive healthcare, healthy lifestyle education and compassionate treatment of illness for all members of the family. As a partner in health, we strive to meet the unique needs of each patient through routine preventive care, referrals to medical specialists if needed and patient advocacy if the care of a specialist becomes necessary.